Album Review: Cypress Hill – Rise Up

Posted on May 3, 2010


Release Date: 19th April 2010

Record Label: Parlophone UK

As a middle-class teenager attending a highly respected school in rural Britain, I was never the targeted clientele for cannabis-coveted, Latin-Rap. In fact to this day, I could not enlighten a fellow novice on the logistics of a ‘Bong’ and if offered Kush I would probably presume that someone was offering me some sort of soft drink. Nevertheless despite my inability to relate to any content ever produced by the West Coast duo Cypress Hill, the appeal of these satirical wordsmiths and their fusion of Rap and futuristic Funk endlessly outweighed the crime-glorifying nature of Rap troglodytes embracing a similar ilk.

Now, six years since their last release ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ and under new management at Priority Records, the Rap-Rock revolutionaries return with their ninth instalment of the Cypress Hill legacy. ‘Rise Up’ is a well-constructed, professionally produced record that successfully avoids stepping into the commercialised territory that would have been a somewhat safer option for many other artists.

They revert back to the soulful, Latino influences that made their earlier albums so eclectic. A highlight of the album is the concluding track ‘Armada Latina’, a certified summer hit that appraises Che and the Cuban Revolution over an irresistible salsa bounce. In comparison ‘Carry Me Away’, which features guest vocals from Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, is a compellingly haunting track in which the pair of self-titled ‘Gangsta’s’ give thanks to their nearest and dearest in what is ultimately the Rap-man’s take on a confessional ballad.

Unfortunately soul is sacrificed for pure Rock on several records as Tom Morrelo (Rage Against The Machine) features on the album’s title track and ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ whilst another heavyweight from the same genre, Daron Malakian (System Of A Down) thrashes his way through ‘Trouble Seeker’. The combination of Rock and Rap had worked on previous records such as ‘Stoned Raiders’ but in attempting to out-do their previous accomplishments, the duo with assistance from Rock’s royalty, have created a number of relatively overpowering tracks. The guitars bellow and shrill at a very fast pace like an intimidating electric storm, suggesting the herb they speak so highly of has been replaced with a far more energy inducing narcotic.

Ultimately the combination of these aggressive Rock anthems and softer, mellow compositions that reiterate their rejoice for Marijuana, creates a sporadic tone throughout the album that can become frustrating for the listener. ‘In an attempt to showcase their adaptable nature, their variability has failed to create a record that die-hard fans can get high to. Whether progression has been made overall, is questionable, however it is certainly a welcomed return nonetheless.

Tom Fitzgerald

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